By Karen Lewis - Head of Digital, Salmat.
Talking to Siri on your iPhone is probably the closest most of us have come to interacting with voice technology.
However, some 62% of smartphone users across Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan and Singapore are reported to have used voice-activated technology in the past six months, according to a report by iProspect.
Uptake of voice devices in Australia is growing. Smart speaker adoption in the country reached five percent of the population within six months of launch, not far behind Canada, which reached eight percent of the same demographic in its country. Not bad, when considering that the US has reached 17% of the population after four years.
Interest in voice devices kicked off in Australia when Google launched the Google Home in July 2017. Amazon followed seven months later with the launch of Alexa in February 2018. Being the first to market helped Google, as the majority of respondents (51%) in our joint survey with ACRS (Dec 2017) revealed, to be the most recognisable brand in that space.
In fact, the number of Australians using Google Home almost tripled over the 2017 holiday period, according to Google.
Yet, while voice device ownership is on the rise in Australia, brands are failing to keep pace with consumer interest in voice technology. There is the option to create your own app, which takes both time and investment. But, what else can brands do to ensure they have a presence on the voice channel?
Why is voice technology important to your business?
While voice technology has been around for years — mainly in the contact centre space — it is a new frontier for brands. Knowing how to get started in this space can be challenging. Even the most established of brands are still only dipping their toes into this space in Australia. However, there appears to be a predilection for voice apps in the retail space.
In our joint survey with ACRS, 68% of consumer respondents said they would use a voice device to shop. Groceries was identified as the top product to buy on the voice platform. However, building your own retail voice app is no easy task. A lot of time and skill goes into ensuring a voice app runs smoothly — natural language recognition being one of the toughest aspects to crack.
We went through the test and learn process ourselves when we built our app, Australia Says (a listen and repeat game using Aussie slang) for the Google Home device. Taking the time to get respondents to test and then using that research to “teach” the app was not a simple process, but one that we believe helped make the Australia Says game effective and enjoyable.
However, there is a strong argument for brands to get involved early on. Don’t be like Kodak, which thought that digital cameras were a passing trend, and fail to invest in innovative new technologies like voice. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty and experiment so you are not left behind as the technology develops. This is exactly the approach we have taken here at Salmat.
How to delve into voice technology
There are three main ways that we recommend brands get involved in the voice space:
- Create your own app
- Get featured on a third party app
- Optimise SEO for voice search
Salmat has launched a voice shopping experience for Google Assistant called 'Lasoo List' which is linked to their online shopping aggregator website, Lasoo. Consumers can speak to Lasoo List via Google Assistant to create and manage their shopping list. The Google Assistant uses Lasoo catalogue data to find and present users with the best deals for items on their shopping list.
Brands should consider their voice search strategy. Back in 2016, Gartner predicted that 30% of web browsing sessions would be conducted without using a screen by 2020. With the launch of home voice devices and virtual assistants into the Australian market, the likelihood of this percentage increasing is high.
As an example, we recently worked with an automotive client to optimise its voice SEO. Our analysis found that customers are increasingly using voice to search for where they can get tyre replacements near them.
Google Analytics doesn’t yet split out voice and typed search requests, but we are finding that there is a strong distinction between the two. The most startling difference being that people tend to be more polite and articulate when speaking into a device — perhaps because of the human characteristics virtual assistants are given.
As yet, few brands are doing voice well, so the opportunity to be an innovator and leader in the space is huge. It’s a very new space and expertise is growing day by day. The landscape is shifting at such a pace that marketing people who do not have voice on their radar will be playing catch up simply to be on parity, instead of being a key player.
This article originally appeared on Salmat.com.au